What Does a General Contractor Do?

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There are a lot of quick ways to improve your home but some of the most effective changes you can introduce will require some degree of remodeling. However, even when you’re just remodeling just one area of your home, such as your kitchen or bathroom, you will need the expertise of several craftsmen. This is where a general contractor comes in.

General Contractors Defined

A general contractor is essentially a remodeling professional in charge of a home improvement project. To get what you need to be done, they will bring together subcontractors and coordinate within the group to facilitate the process. You can think of a general contractor as what an event planner would be to a wedding, with subcontractors as the wedding’s suppliers. In the same way that an event planner puts together pieces to make someone’s dream wedding a reality, a general contractor is there to bring your dream home to life.

General contractors are there to oversee home improvement projects and ensure they go off without a hitch.

Why Hire a General Contractor?

It’s easy to look at general contractors as mere overseers to remodeling projects. However, they don’t just organize schedules and make sure everything is in order–they are also remodeling experts in their own right. When you hire one, you’re paying for:

  • Exceptional Organizational Skill. Depending on the kind of work you’re getting done on your home, it’s not unheard of to require more than a handful of subcontractors at a time. And while each subcontractor has a specialization, their work is tied to one another. Should one be delayed, for example, it can cause a ripple effect that can negatively impact your remodeling project. A general contractor can help you avoid that by staying on top of things for you, which is why it’s not unusual to see them on the phone all the time.
  • Building Process Know-how. To stay on top of things, a general contractor has to know as well what’s going on. This means knowing what needs to be done and when allowing them not only to control the schedule but to also prevent unnecessary spending.
  • Building Trade Familiarity. A good general contractor knows how to evaluate a subcontractor’s work. By knowing the standards of the trade, they are able to determine if a subcontractor’s output is sufficient or not.

From making everyone’s on schedule to ensure that the right tasks are being completed, keeping a remodeling team together is what makes a general contractor so valuable.

  • Building Code Knowledge. All construction work, big or small, have to meet building codes. Your general contractor will know what requirements are in place for your area, letting you not only avoid fines come inspection time but also assures that you are receiving quality according to industry standards.
  • Subcontractor Relations. Any supplier or subcontractor worth working will be professional but they’re also likelier to be more responsive to a general contractor they’ve already worked before and had the pleasure of working with. Subcontractors are also selective of jobs so they’ll also take into consideration the general contractor you have. One who already has a thriving network will make it easier for you to find subcontractors for your remodeling project.
  • Project Guarantee. A good general contractor is also a guarantee that a project will stay on track should a subcontractor demand payment upfront for certain kinds of work. This is because they will be financially stable enough to have cash on hand to cover costs, billing you just afterward.
  • Contract Expertise. General contractors deal with contracts and subcontractors all day every day so they have a firm grasp of valid terms, allowing them to advise you accurately if conditions you are presented with are just. This also means you can talk to them about anything contract-related should you have any questions or concerns.

Generally, you should hire a general contractor when the remodeling job you’re looking at will call for different professionals to complete, require over a week to accomplish, and need a few permits to get started.

Finding the Right General Contractor

There will be a lot of general contractors out there so it’s not actually difficult to find candidates; it’s whittling down your list to just one that can make the selection process a bit troublesome for you. At the very least, you should make sure that your general contractor is licensed and experienced–a license ensures that you’re working with a legitimate business while experience assures you that you’re enlisting the assistance of someone who truly knows what they are doing. Take note that licensing requirements may vary from state to state and the more years of experience you’re looking at, the better.

To help you quickly weed out who you should NOT be working with, here are some warning signs that a general contractor is NOT to be entertained:

  • Solicits door-to-door (A classic sign of a fly-by-night contractor!)
  • Is not listed in your local phone book or doesn’t have a physical office address
  • Ask for payment upfront in full
  • Will only accept cash as payment
  • Offers you discounts if you can find other customers for them
  • Highlights your remodeling job will be a demonstration
  • Makes you get your own building permits
  • Forces you to sign a contract
  • Demands a lien on your home (A lien is the right to possess your home until you the remodeling job is fully paid)

BAD EGGS: There will be a lot of excellent general contractors out there but watch out for the bad eggs! Knowing the warning signs will help you avoid scammers.

Opting to remodel can be an exciting time but it can also be just as overwhelming as the reality of the level of work a home improvement will require starts to set in. Fortunately, general contractors are here to get that load off your shoulder. Sure, you’ll still be involved in the project but your general contractor can take care of the technicalities for you, allowing you to enjoy the process more of remodeling your home. Given the kind of responsibility a general contractor takes on then, it’s crucial that you take the time to find the right one for you and your home.

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Author Bio:

Vincent Nanfito

The Nanfito name has been synonymous with construction in Connecticut for over 52 years, our President Vincent Nanfito founded V. Nanfito’s in January 1965. Vinny continues to be involved in the daily administration of V. Nanfito Roofing and Siding.

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